Summary: He walks up on the hill with his son. He is old. He has traveled a long distance to see this hill. He wanted to return to show his son the spot where he was meant to die. He had to leave Jerusalem many years ago because of his reputation. He was a wa


Text: Mark 15:6-15

Theme: Jesus replaces us on the cross so that we can take up the cross.

He walks up on the hill with his son in toe. He is old. He has traveled a long distance to see this hill. He wanted to return to show his son the spot where he was meant to die. He had to leave Jerusalem many years ago because of his reputation. He was a wanted criminal. But now he has returned to tell his son the story of his deliverance. He wants to tell his son about the day he missed his cross.

Barrabbas might not have been the only one to want to tell his story. In fact all of the Gospel writes tell his story. The writers of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John thought that his story was extremely significant. All of them include his story. This is important because the only miracle that all of the writers mention is the feeding of the five thousand. Though Barabbas never speaks a word—he is a major player in the final hours of Christ. So let’s travel up on the hill of Golgotha and overhear the story of the man who missed his cross.

Mark 15:6-15 records this account. “Now at the feast he used to release for them any one prisoner whom they requested. And the man named Barabbas had been imprisoned with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the insurrection. And the multitude went up and began asking him to do as he had been accustomed to do for them. And Pilate answered them, saying, "Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?" For he was aware that the chief priests had delivered Him up because of envy. But the chief priests stirred up the multitude to ask him to release Barabbas for them instead. And answering again, Pilate was saying to them, "Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?" And they shouted back, "Crucify Him!" But Pilate was saying to them, "Why, what evil has He done?" But they shouted all the more, "Crucify Him!" And wishing to satisfy the multitude, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he delivered Him to be crucified.”

Pilate in order to pacify the crowds attends to release one prison which was the custom at the time of the Passover. Pilate felt like this would appease the people. Pilate must have been a where of Jesus’ popularity because just a week ago the people were chanting Hosanna. Surely, the people would ask for the release of Christ. But the people did not. Pilate even set up the situation to the best of his ability. He chooses a known criminal to be released. Pilate offers the people the choice between Jesus and Barabbas.

Now Barabbas was not any everyday criminal. He was a notorious insurrectionist. The text seems to indicate that he was involved in a rebellion against the Roman authorities. This was common practice in the first century. It seems that during one of these revolts, Barabbas killed a man or participated in a killing.

In fact Barabbas could have been part of the Zealot party in Jerusalem. This was a political group that fights through war to overthrow the Roman government in Jerusalem. Barabbas’ name also sheds light on his background. Names were significant in the Jewish nation. Just like Peter had the name of “Simon Bar-Jonah.” This name means Simon son of Jonah. Barabbas was the “Son of abba.” This means “son of his father.” This was a classic reference to the Rabbis. The text seems to indicate that Barabbas was a son of a Rabbi who has joined the insurrections in Jerusalem. Barabbas could be the common case of a good son gone bad.

The reaction of the crowd must have shocked Pilate. He did not expect their response to his offer. While he was thinking about what to do with Jesus, the religious leaders were inciting the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released. Pilate knew that Jesus was hated by the Pharisees because of jealous. But the crowds wanted to criminal to be freed and not the Christ. Pilate even implores them to reconsider. Since they do not want Jesus released he asked the people what they do what. Maybe Pilate was hoping for a lesser punishment suggested by the people, but the people scream out to have Jesus crucified. Pilate gives into the demands of the crowds and releases the sinner and scourges the saint.

As soon as the prison doors open, you can see Barrabbas fleeing the town. He has been released. He has been absolved from his crimes. Barabbas is a free man because of Jesus. That cross that Jesus hang on was probably meant for Barrabbas. Barrabbas has another chance at life because he missed his cross.

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